This information will help you identify medications that contain aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It's important to stop these medications before many cancer treatments.
Medications such as aspirin and other NSAIDs, vitamin E, and COX-2 inhibitors can increase your risk of bleeding during cancer treatment. These medications affect your platelets, which are blood cells that clot to prevent bleeding. If you take aspirin or other NSAIDs, vitamin E, or a COX-2 inhibitor such as celecoxib (Celebrex®), tell your doctor or nurse. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking these medications before your treatment. You will also find instructions in the information about the treatment you’re having.
If you're having surgery:
Stop taking medications that contain aspirin or vitamin E 10 days before your surgery or as directed by your doctor. If you take aspirin because you’ve had a problem with your heart or you’ve had a stroke, be sure to talk with your doctor before you stop taking it.
Stop taking NSAIDs 48 hours before your surgery.
Ask your doctor if you should continue taking a COX-2 inhibitor.
If you're having a procedure in Radiology (including Interventional Radiology, Interventional Mammography, and General Radiology):
- If you take aspirin because you’ve had a problem with your heart or you’ve had a stroke, be sure to talk with your doctor before you stop taking it. If your doctor instructs you to stop taking aspirin, you should stop 5 days before your procedure or as directed by your doctor.
- Stop taking NSAIDs 24 hours before your procedure.
- Stop taking medications that contain vitamin E 10 days before your procedure, or as directed by your doctor.
Chemotherapy can decrease your platelet count, which can increase your risk of bleeding. Whether you're just starting chemotherapy or you've been receiving it, talk with your doctor or nurse before taking aspirin or NSAIDs.
Medications are often called by their brand name, which can make it difficult to know their ingredients. To help you identify medications that contain aspirin, other NSAIDs, and vitamin E, please review the list of common medications in this leaflet. While this list includes the most common products, there are others. Please check with your healthcare provider if you aren’t sure. Always be sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.
The following common medications contain aspirin:
Arthritis Pain Formula
Ascriptin® and Ascriptin A/D®
Bayer® (most formulations)
BC® Powder and Cold Formulations
Bufferin® (most formulations)
Cama® Arthritis Pain Reliever
Ecotrin (most formulations)
Empirin® Aspirin (most formulations)
Excedrin® Extra-Strength Analgesic Tablets and Caplets
Fiorinal® (most formulations)
Lortab® ASA Tablets
Norgesic Forte® (most formulations)
PAC® Analgesic Tablets
Soma® Compound Tablets
Soma® Compound with Codeine Tablets
St. Joseph® Adult Chewable Aspirin
Vanquish® Analgesic Caplets
The following common medications are NSAIDs that do not contain aspirin:
Bayer® Select Pain Relief Formula Caplets
Most multivitamins contain vitamin E, so if you take a multivitamin be sure to check the label. The following products contain vitamin E:
E-1000 IU Softgels
Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is generally safe to take during your cancer treatment. It doesn't affect platelets, so it will not increase your chance of bleeding. The following common medications contain acetaminophen; those in bold require a prescription:
Aceta® with Codeine
Acetaminophen with Codeine
Arthritis Pain Formula® Aspirin-Free
Tylenol® with Codeine No. 3
Read the labels on all your medications.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a very common ingredient found in over-the-counter and prescription medications. It’s often an ingredient in pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids, and cough, cold, and allergy medications. The full name acetaminophen is not always written out, so look for these common abbreviations, especially on prescription pain relievers: APAP, AC, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, and Acetam.
Acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, but there is a limit to how much you can take in one day. It’s possible to take too much acetaminophen without knowing because it’s in so many different medications. Taking more acetaminophen than directed can lead to liver damage. You should never take more than 3,250 mg of acetaminophen in one day.